Thoughts on life from an American friend as he becomes 80

This is from my good friend Arthur Shostak:

From the vantage point of my 80 years I like to think I have learned six lessons worth pondering by others of all ages:

First, recognize time passes faster than anything save perhaps the speed of light (and I am not so sure about that calculation anymore). None of it ought be under-valued or wasted. Treasure as much of it as possible, as it enables earning and storing memories worth visiting with when the Light begins to first flicker, and later dim.

Second, clarify and then hold fast to Sacred Priorities. Top candidates include preserving your dignity, your honor, and what you understand of your “soul.” Take the study of yourself as a Sacred Priority, and do not spare yourself doubt and recrimination, albeit promotion of the “better angels of our nature” should show the way.

Third, value giving and getting love as highly as possible. Understand it as the sum of appreciation you have for the unique help a soul mate can provide as you try to complete yourself. Love can put “poetry” into mere biological existence, as it makes it possible for us to help another in their effort to complete themself.

Fourth, take a stand! Join with others in projects that help improve the state of affairs, or at least help keep them from worsening. Be persistent, and yet also patient; steadfast, and yet also flexible; strong, and yet also sensitive. Choose ennobling Causes, and assist them in inching toward their highest potential. Make a worthy difference.

Fifth, live with an eye to your legacy. Take to heart the sage Latin contention – Non Omnis Moriar (I shall not wholly die). Much (even if not all) of your lasting influence is yours to consciously shape. You are always on stage; write the script and act out the finest character of which you are capable.

Finally, do not fear to dare. Take calculated chances, and make the most of them! Savor the miracle of consciousness. Of creativity. Of empathy. Of morality, and of love. Live with gusto, finesse, and style. Have good reasons at the end to exit with the satisfaction of having given it (life) your best … and then some.


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